Viewing cable 04MUSCAT2079
Title: EFFORT TO LAUNCH OMAN'S FIRST HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04MUSCAT20792004-11-30 13:45:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Muscat
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUSCAT 002079 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
NEA/ARPI, NEA/PI, DRL/CRA (DDOLAN) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV EAID SOCI MU
SUBJECT: EFFORT TO LAUNCH OMAN'S FIRST HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1. (SBU) An aspiring activist intent on establishing Oman's 
first human rights center has been invited to discuss his 
proposal with the Ministry of Social Development.  In an 
effort to obtain government registration, Abdullah bin Salem 
al-Barami solicited the Embassy for support, saying that the 
public's lack of awareness and understanding of their civil 
rights demands the establishment of such an organization. 
End Summary. 
 
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CAN WE TALK? 
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¶2. (SBU) An aspiring human rights activist, Mr. Abdullah bin 
Salem al-Barami, wrote an impassioned letter to the 
Ambassador requesting assistance in establishing a human 
rights center in Oman.  Al-Barami, a businessman and military 
veteran who hails from Oman's southern Dhofar region, said 
that "as the one who saved Europe from the barbarism of the 
Nazis and Fascists," America needs to present its "beautiful" 
image to the Arab and Muslim world.  Furthermore, al-Barami 
said that assisting Oman in establishing a human rights 
center would be serving mutual interests and strengthening 
friendly ties between the two countries.  While al-Barami is 
currently on the board of directors of his family's 
successful business venture, Al-Barami Group of Companies, he 
appears serious in taking on this additional mantle. 
 
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OUTLINING HR CONCERNS 
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¶3. (SBU) Emboffs met with al-Barami October 23 to discuss his 
proposal for establishing a human rights center in Oman.  He 
spoke about the many injustices he perceives in Omani society 
and the public's lack of awareness of their civil rights. 
His criticisms included the "just for show" Majlis al-Shura 
(Consultative Council), discrimination in the workforce, 
restricted civil rights (example of government approval for 
Omanis to marry non-Omani citizens), controlled press (no 
critical reporting and limited newspaper selection), the 
problem of elitism (according to al-Barami 50 families 
monopolize the Omani economy), and the overcrowded 
universities. 
 
¶4. (SBU) On the subject of universities, al-Barami appeared 
personally offended by the USD20 million pricetag for the 
construction of Sultan Qaboos University, a school that 
accommodates only 2000 students per year.  He also criticized 
the cost of Dhofar University (DU).  The only university in 
the region, DU barely accommodates 1000 students and charges 
over USD7500 per year.  (Note:  The average cost of tuition 
in Oman is USD7500 for most private schools.  End Note.) 
Al-Barami said that 40,000 to 50,000 students graduate 
secondary school each year with ambitions of furthering their 
education.  He asked, "How can we expect families to afford 
sending even one kid to university?"  More importantly, 
al-Barami said that the fundamental lack of access to higher 
education paves the way for terrorism.  Young students will 
be listening to "fundamentalist" rhetoric instead of 
university lectures. 
 
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MINISTRY WILLING TO DISCUSS 
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¶5. (SBU) Al-Barami seemed convinced that without vocal 
support from the United States, the Ministry of Social 
Development will deny registration to a human rights 
organization.  Emboffs reminded al-Barami that it is usually 
a lengthy and tedious process for any non-governmental 
organization (NGO) to become registered in Oman.  While the 
U.S. clearly supports human rights efforts, al-Barami he may 
find it difficult to garner material support for an 
organization that does not formally exist.  Emboffs also 
offered suggestions to assist al-Barami in pursuing his 
ambition, including visiting successful local NGOs, reaching 
out to other embassies that also support human rights, 
contacting international organizations, and, most 
importantly, applying for registration with the Ministry of 
Social Development.  Many NGOs in the process of seeking 
registration are still able to carry out substantial work in 
their fields. 
 
¶6. (SBU) Al-Barami notified us November 28 that, in response 
to his letter, the Ministry of Social Development has invited 
al-Barami to Muscat to discuss his proposal.  Poloff will 
meet again with al-Barami and facilitate meetings with local 
NGOs who have been through the lengthy registration process. 
 
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Comment 
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¶7. (SBU) Al-Barami is a serious and determined individual who 
is articulating some commonly heard complaints.  Apparently 
around 50 years old, he is a veteran of the provincial guard 
forces the Sultan created to battle the communist-backed 
Dhofar rebellion in the 1970's, as well as of the Royal Air 
Force of Oman.  He indicated that he was presenting his 
proposal to us on behalf of like-minded colleagues in Dhofar 
and elsewhere in the Sultanate, primarily composed of former 
military and professional people (doctors, engineers, 
educators and business people).  His ambition to create a 
human rights center strikes us as sincere, and we will 
closely monitor further developments and, where appropriate, 
provide advice and assistance. 
BALTIMORE